You'll Love Me When I'm Gone: Photographs of Our Melting Glaciers

This summer could be dubbed The Great Melt. The belt of ice surrounding the Arctic has melted to its lowest level in history, a record seen by many scientists as evidence of long-term climate change. Adding to environmentalists' fears, Shell sunk its first drill bit into the Arctic seabed, taking the first steps in American offshore oil exploration in these frigid waters.

Today, a new book by photographer James Balog, Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers, captures in vivid color just what's at stake as climate change erodes ice in some of the world's most extreme places.

Balog has spent the last thirty years donning crampons, paddling canoes, and hopping into dog sleds and helicopters to capture the world's ice on film. He's been everywhere from Bolivia and Nepal to Alaska and Montana to France and Switzerland, in an ongoing project that he says is "about getting in close to ice and experiencing all its colors and textures and shapes."

This summer's record melt in the Arctic, Balog told Climate Desk as he was en route to a glacier shoot in Iceland, is a reminder that "ice is the canary in the coal mine, you can touch and see and hear climate change." Balog shared six of his favorites with Climate Desk:

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Aerial view, meltwater on Greenland ice sheet. © James Balog.

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Bubbles of ancient air rise from Greenland Ice Sheet as it melts, 14 July, 2008. The black substance is cryoconite. © James Balog.

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Greenland Ice Sheet, Greenland, 10 July, 2008. Silt and soot blown from afar turn into black "cryoconite," absorb solar heat and melt down into the ice. © James Balog.

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Stein Glacier, Switzerland, 25 September 2006. © James Balog.

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Stein Glacier, Switzerland, 17 September 2011. © James Balog.

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Columbia Glacier, Alaska, USA, 23 June 2006. In mid-1980′s, ice filled this valley up to lower edge of dark band of vegetation. Ice deflation since then has reached more than 1200 vertical feet. © James Balog.

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3043.jpgThis piece is by James West of The Climate Desk.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration between The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Slate, and others, dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. Learn more at theclimatedesk.org.

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